The title of Hilary’s album, Breathe In Breathe Out, is exactly what I had to tell myself when I was about to listen to it for the first time. As a huge Hilary Duff fan it is a surreal feeling to finally have a brand new album, after an eight year long drought without any new Duff-music.
With that said, I managed to get a hold of myself after a couple of days with the album on repeat. I now feel that I have managed to create an objective view of how the album sounds in my opinion, and if Hilary has managed to top her legendary masterpiece of an album, «Dignity».
Track-by-track: Breathe In Breathe Out
At first I had no information about the writing credits on the tracks. I knew that Tove Lo had been working on the album, and with that in mind it was quite easy to spot which ones she had worked on(At least which ones I think she’s worked on). The two tracks following «Sparks», «My Kind» and «One In A Million» both have a strong hint of Tove’s sound. Especially the latter one, where it sounds like Hilary is mimicking the signature Tove Lo «uh-oh» that was so very present in Tove’s own «Habits(Stay High)». Hilary herself has said many times that this is one of her favourites on the album. It has a melancholy vibe, and an anthemic feel to the chorus. Tove and Hilary make a great team, and Hilary’s slightly weak but sugary sweet voice fits perfectly.
«Confetti» is a dreamy EDM-track, with a production similar to Zedd. The verses are low-key, and it makes me wonder what this would sound like as an acoustic track. When the chorus kicks in that track really takes off. The way she sings «confetti» will be stuck in my head for a long long time. Towards the end of the track Hilary gives us a pleasent surprise, when she suddenly samples «Heaven Is a Place On Earth». It fits in great with the rest of the track-
The title track «Breathe In, Breathe Out» sounds like a very personal song. It’s a very cute track, in which Hilary showcases the best of her voice, in an unconstrained way. After the second chorus there is a part that has been completelty stuck to my brain ever since I heard it the first time. «X Marks the spot where we left our hearts, and x marks the spot where we fell apart». You’ll know what I mean when you hear it. It is addictive.
«Lies» is one of the most dramatic tracks on the album. She’s annoyed with her lovers/ex-husbands(who knows who it is about) lies, and procclaims that she is done. It has an addictive chanting chorus, that also sticks to your brain right away. This seems to be a consistent theme of the album and one of Hilary’s best abilties, to create tracks that you can’t get out of your head.
«Arms Around A Memory» is a a dramatic dance ballad. It is uptempo, but it has that sad feel to it. It’s a little darker than the rest of the album, and it sound quite personal. When the chorus kicks in with it’s heavy production, everything really gets taken up a notch.
The next track was one of my first instant favourites. It is impossible not to get hooked on «Stay In Love». Hilary serves ut another anthemic chorus, that will have you singing along in no time. Her voice sound great when she uses her lower register in the verses.
«Brave Heart» is probably as personal as it gets on this album. She sings about letting go, and relying on the one thing she’s got left, which is her brave heart. The bridge really stands out. This is a track that I think every fan will appreciate, it’s really feels like it’s coming straight from Hilary. Definitely one the album highlights!
The collaboration with Ed Sheeran was announced almost a year ago, and I was releieved to see that it made the final cut of the album. «Tattoo» is an incredibly cute guitar-driven track, which highlights the best qualities of her voice. It sounds like a perfect match between an Ed Sheeran-track and something from the last One Direction-album.
After a solid run, with no disappointments so far, «Picture This» is the first and only letdown on the album. It’s a little uneventful, and her voice just doesn’t sound good in the chorus. It sounds like she is struggling to hit the high notes, and it is not nice to listen to. But what would an album be without any flaws? After all it is quite impressive when it is easier to point out the one track I don’t like, rather than picking a favourite from all the other great ones.
Luckily Hilary picks it up at the end, with an incredibly sweet duet with Big Time Rush’s Kendall Schmidt. I imagine that if she was going for an album of «Chasing The Sun»-type of tracks, «Night Like This» would be the way cooler sibling to that slightly unimpressive Colbie Caillat-penned comeback track. Their voices go great together, and I love the playful way the go back and forth between who sings what. A great way to end an incredibly great pop album.
In conclusion this is a very respectable addition to Hilary’s strong discography. After an eight year wait it is hard to know what to expect, but as I have always known, she has an undeniable knack for those sticky hooks and lyrics.It feels great to have her back, and hopefully this album will not only reach the ears of people in her loyal fanbase, but alot further as well. Now I need to remember to follow Duff’s strict orders, to breathe in and breathe out, before I hit the repeat-button for the hundredth time.